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Lonza expands into discovery with Vaccinex deal


A new deal with Vaccinex has taken Lonza Biologics beyond its primary focus of mammalian cell culture-based manufacturing and into the area of antibody drug discovery.

The aim is that the combination of antibody discovery and production in a single package will provide a more efficient and reliable route to product development, said the companies in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vaccinex will make its antibody discovery services available to Lonza's customers seeking to identify novel therapeutic antibodies. Vaccinex has developed a library-based antibody discovery technology that can directly express complete, fully human antibodies in mammalian cells, a feature which it maintains is unique.

In return, Lonza will make its proprietary glutamine synthetase gene expression system available to Vaccinex and its clients. The GS system is used to select cell lines in mammalian cell that have the highest yields of the desired protein, improving the efficiency of production.

For a period of five years, Lonza will also provide Vaccinex dedicated access to its current Good Manufacturing Practice facilities for the clinical production of recombinant proteins and antibody products.

Combining the two companies' technologies will allow the production of "substantial quantities of high quality, fully functional human monoclonal antibodies that would have been difficult to identify with other systems," commented Lonza chief executive Markus Gemuend.

Monoclonal antibodies are a major growth sector in pharmaceutical drug development. The number of drugs based on this technology is still only in the teens, but sales are expected to rise dramatically from a level of just under $3 billion in 2001 to $12.1 billion by 2010, according to market research firm Datamonitor.

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